Researched and written by Anne Wright
2/Lt A C Brook
5TH Battalion, Manchester Regiment
Killed in action, 4. 6.1915
Both Arthur Charles Brook’s parents, Arthur and Ruth Mary, were descendants of the Brook family of Meltham Mills in Yorkshire. The family’s mill complex, run by Jonas Brook & Bros. gave the place its name. They were first cousins being the children of brothers: the Rev Alfred Brook (1828-70) was Arthur’s father and Charles John Brook (1829/30–57) was Ruth’s father. Their common ancestor, Charles Brook (1792–1869), their grandfather, was a brother of the three Brooks who founded and organised the family business. By the end of the nineteenth century the firm in Meltham Mills, thread manufacturers, employed almost 2000 people. The Brooks were enlightened employers who provided housing (59 cottages had been built by 1900), a convalescence home and pensions for their workforce. They were philanthropists and endowed local churches, such as St James’ in 1845 which doubled as a school. On completing his formal education Arthur Charles Brook joined the family business and went on to become a Director.
He was born in Meltham Mills in June 1884 and baptised there, the following month, at St. James’ Church on the 13 July. His father, Arthur, was a civil servant with H. M. Treasury and the family’s place of residence was in Weybridge. Two siblings, Reginald James and Dorothy Mary followed in 1885 and 1887. Their mother was widowed on 15 February 1888; her husband had died, aged just 30. Her death came at their Weybridge home, Woodhouse in St. George’s Avenue forty-four years later in 1932. Arthur was educated at the Grange School in Folkestone and Rugby School before going on to Exeter College, Oxford, from where he graduated in 1903. He married Sydney Harriet Darlington on 8 July 1909 at the Parish Church of Douglas in Parbold, Lancashire. His uncle, the Rev Arthur Brook, the Rector of St. John’s, Hackney officiated. Arthur was already working in the family business. By 1911 he and his wife and their ten months old daughter, Ruth Blanche Mary lived at Manor Croft, Meltham, near Huddersfield.
Arthur enlisted on 12 September 1914 and was posted to the 5th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. This regiment became part of the 127th Brigade in the 42nd ( East Lancs) Division; they landed on W and V beaches of Cape Helles on the Gallipoli Peninsula (Turkey) which was only ten miles wide and overlooked the Dardanelles ( straits which led from the Aegean Sea through to the Black Sea). The terrain was rocky, steep-sided, covered in scrub, had deep gulleys and little water. The strategic objective of the Gallipoli Campaign was to attack the ‘soft-underbelly’ of the Central Powers by taking Turkey (Germany’s ally) out of the war and opening up the route to Russia through control of the Dardanelles.
The 42nd (East Lancs) Division landed on their designated beaches on 6 May 1915. They moved to the front line on 12 May under heavy machine gun and artillery fire; they remained in the line until 26 May when they were relieved and returned to the beaches. On Friday, 4 June, a brilliant summer’s day with a stiff breeze, Arthur Brook and his comrades were involved in the third Battle of Krithia; their objective was to take the dominating heights around the village of Krithia. The bombardment of the Turks started at 8 am and the rate of fire increased at 10.30 am but the results were as not as damaging as had been hoped for. The infantry attack began at noon; Arthur’s 42nd Division was to the right of the 29th Division. His battalion was in the first wave of the attack. Initially this progressed well as within five minutes they and their comrades had taken the first Turkish trench. The 127th Brigade advanced 1000 yards in total, capturing all three Turkish trenches and getting within three-quarters of a mile of Krithia. However, they were unable to consolidate their positions; their flanks were exposed and by 6 pm they were being attacked on three sides and the order to withdraw was given. By nightfall all the captured territory had been given up.
The cost of the third Battle of Krithia was very heavy: the Turks suffered 9000 casualties, the French, 2000 and the British 4500. Arthur Brook was one of the British fatalities. He was buried in Redoubt Cemetery, Helles ( XII. A. 20), on the west side of Krithia, facing south to the Dardanelles. The personal inscription on his headstone reads :
FROM THEE I DESIRE
TO RECEIVE ALL THAT
THY ETERNAL LIFE CAN GIVE
Arthur’s widow remarried to Arthur William Woodman Simpson in November 1921; she died in November 1957 at the Victoria Hospital in Morecombe. Their daughter, Ruth, married Ardern Relf Wood in August 1930; she was widowed in 1948 and married again in 1963 to Walter Musgrave-Hoyle.
Atkinson Family Tree, www.ancestry.co.uk
British Army WW1 Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920, www.ancestry.co.uk
The British Army in the Great War of 1914-1918, The Long, Long Trail – 42nd (East Lancashire) Division, www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/order-of-battle-of-divisions/42nd-east-lancashire-division/
England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills & Administrations), 1858-1966, www.ancestry.co.uk
Lancashire, England, Church of England Marriages & Banns, 1754-1936, www.ancestry.co.uk
Sandford/Hall Family Tree, www.ancestry.co.uk
Quarmby, Lauren, ‘Victorian Meltham’, http://mhm.hud.ac.uk/digitalvictorians/victorian-meltham/